Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Turning my office into a moveable feast

I'm starting the 13th year of this business, and two things about it have been true from the start until the present day: About half my time is spent with clients at their locations, and the other half in my home office--or, as I like to call it, my world headquarters. Likewise, half my time is spent standing, typically when I'm leading workshops. That means I'm also at risk of sitting half the time. So I've spent a fair amount of time working on how to turn my office into what you might call a moveable feast, opportunities to move, rather than sit. Here are the tools and tricks I use to keep my office mobile in a different sense:
  1. Standing desk: Safco's Muv Stand-up Adjustable Height Stand Up Desk with Keyboard Shelf is my longest-standing, so to speak, element in making my office more encouraging of movement. I like this model for its compact size, and it's been in play for six years. And I've just added a smaller portable presentation lectern on wheels for use when I'm catching up on email in front of the television, to offer an alternative to sitting.
  2. Non-sitting chair: Balans The Original Kneeling Chair is a product I've come back to--I had one decades ago. It's what I use to *not* sit at my sitting desk. I don't miss the traditional office chair at all.
  3. Standing mat: Topo not-flat standing desk mat by Ergodriven is a new element, but perhaps my favorite. It's what makes my standing desk really work for me. The mat uses a calibrated surface to offer you dozens of different ways to stand. Changing your stance is an important factor when using a standing desk, as experts say that too much standing is no better than too much sitting. This mat also serves as an anti-fatigue mat, and is thick and comfortable.
  4. Minimal shoes: Working and exercising in minimal shoes--those with no heel elevation and less padding overall-- also has made it easier to stand and move. I've got little to no foot pain or strain these days, and my feet are stronger and more supple. I like shoes by Vivobarefoot and Vibram five fingers best. Easing into using these shoes is the key to success.
  5. Reading and listening about better movement, while moving: If you're going to ease your way into minimal shoes, and want a thorough briefing on better movement, please read Whole Body Barefoot: Transitioning Well to Minimal Footwear and Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement. These two books by biomechanist Katy Bowman helped me figure out how to improve my office arrangement (and how to get more work done outside the framework of the office). The books, in audiobook form, and Bowman's useful podcast are resources I listen to while moving, a tactic I use with all my audiobook listening that adds to my movement every day.
  6. The floor and a floor cushion: Sitting on the floor is a great way to use different muscles and prevent that rut your body gets into in a traditional chair. I sometimes also use a Zafu meditation cushion for cross-legged sitting
  7. A kettlebell: kettlebell in the office lets me do swings or lifts if I'm sitting too long. I like a five-minute kettlebell break to counteract sitting action. Get some coaching from a qualified personal trainer before you try this on your own--it makes a difference.
  8. The phone: I sometimes do remote speaker coaching by phone, and invariably, I stand and move while listening and talking on the phone. This helps me in a couple of ways: I get more movement in, and I sound better and more energetic, something to keep in mind when you're doing a media interview or job interview by phone. Now, a phone call is a prompt for me to stand and move, a great habit. If I need to take notes, the standing desk and laptop are where I head during a call.
  9. Upper body bar: I installed a doorway pull-up bar, which has turned out to be a great way to counteract the forward lean you develop in front of screens (ditto that for my standing desk, which is set at the perfect height to keep my shoulders back and down). 
  10. Movement tracker: My Withings Activity-Tracking Watch keeps me honest about how much I'm moving in the office and when I need to get out and move more. In conjunction with its tracking app, this has proven to be an effective prod and effortless tracker.
Finally, I've learned to look for reasons to move and work, so I walk during conference calls, listen to audiobooks while walking with a package that needs to be shipped, walk to the bank and to meetings. And if I'm somewhere that requires me to wait, I walk while I wait. As Bowman advises, I "stack" activities so that they can occur while I'm also getting in movement, and that works well, whether I'm in the office or outside it.

(Image by Topo)

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